The Dreamtime—old and new
Driving north from Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia, about 25 km (16 miles) before Cooktown one passes a magnificent granite mountain called ‘Black Mountain’. Actually, it consists of two mountains, a larger one and a smaller one, composed entirely of black granite boulders. They stand out in stark contrast to the woody scrub all around them.
For five years, I was the pastor at Hope Vale Aboriginal Community, just north of Cooktown. I drove past this mountain many times. One can pull up on the side of the road and have a closer look, but one is forbidden to cross the barrier and go for a walk, mainly because it’s too dangerous. The mountains are heaped granite boulders with a maze of gaps, caves, and crevices into which people have gone missing over the years, never to be found.
The land holds great cultural significance for the local Kuku Yalanji and Kuku Yimithirr indigenous people. There are many traditional ‘Dreamtime’ stories associated with what we know as Black Mountain, called Kalkajaka by the indigenous people of the area.
One such story says that there was a dispute between two brothers who were both in love with the same woman. To impress the girl, the brothers made piles of stones, the granite boulders we see today. The competition to have the highest heap of stones was fierce. Finally, the brothers became so obsessed and angry that each threw a stone at the other, so killing one another. The brothers are gone but their piles of rocks remain to this day.
This Dreamtime story is obviously a fantastic story, a bit like a fairy-tale. It is unlikely that anyone, perhaps even those with whom the story began, would think it really happened.
A more modern story about Black Mountain goes like this: about 260 million years ago, volcanic activity caused a large mass of molten rock to accumulate under the ground. This occurred during the Permian Period of Earth’s history, when the molten rock cooled and solidified into an enormous volume of granite. Over millions of years, seismic movements in the crust fractured the granite, and erosion slowly and gradually removed the overlying rocks, exposing the monolith above the surrounding countryside. Also, the repeated cycle of expansion and contraction from daytime heating and nighttime cooling caused these granite boulders to crack open, producing the outcrop that we see today.
The difference with the second story is that the people telling the tale really think it happened. They regard it as factual, based on their interpretation of the geological evidence. What they don’t appreciate is that it includes lots of assumptions and speculation about things they did not observe. In that regard, it has similarities with the fantastic Dreamtime story.
For example, who was there to see any of this take place? No one was. How do we know with certainty any timescale for either of these stories? We don’t!
However, we do have an eyewitness who was there from the very beginning—from the creation of the world. He has witnessed everything that has taken place in Earth’s history. Also there were human witnesses to all the major events of significance from the sixth day of creation week on. And God has inspired these events to be recorded for us in the pages of the Bible.
The Bible tells us emphatically that at the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. On the first day God made time, space and matter. On Day 3 He caused the dry land to be exposed and the sea to be gathered in one place. The earth was “very good”, different from what we experience today. God’s ultimate creation was human beings, male and female, made in God’s own eternal likeness. Human sin and its consequences greatly changed things, leading to a global Flood and a reshaping of the whole surface of the earth.
Psalm 104 says of God: “You covered it [the earth] with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth” (vv. 6–9).
“For they [the scoffers in the latter days] deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished” (2 Peter 3:5,6).
The Flood at the time of Noah reshaped our world to what we observe today. Black Mountain was formed by that catastrophe.1 The granite was emplaced as the floodwaters were rising. It was exposed by erosion as the floodwaters were receding.
The Flood buried the world of that time, as attested to by the proliferation of fossils on every continent,2 and it broke the world into the continents we have today. Fossils containing bone marrow, blood, and other still-soft tissue3 tell us this was not in any ‘Dreamtime’ of millions of years ago.
An examination of the physical evidence today supports what the Bible has to say. Since the Bible is trustworthy and true as to Earth’s history, it’s also trustworthy and true in regard to our means of salvation. Conversely, if you trust Jesus to be your Saviour, then trust the rest of God’s Word, since Jesus is part of the history God has revealed to us.
References and notes
- Walker, T., Origin of Black Mountain, North Queensland, Australia; creation.com/black-mountain, 1 Jan 2019. Return to text.
- See e.g. Sarfati, J., Ichthyosaurs: evidence for a recent global flood, Creation 37(1):38–39, 2015; creation.com/ichthyosaurs. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Double-decade dinosaur disquiet, Creation 36(1):12–14, 2014; creation.com/dino-disquiet. Return to text.